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Disenfranchised

38 years-ago this past Saturday, John Lennon was murdered in New York City.  I remember that night.

State Rep. Carol Alvarado was endorsed by the Harris County Tejano Democrats this past Friday night. Nice!

Commentary received this email this past Friday afternoon:

Due to the threat of Severe Flooding the Early Voting Site at Ripley House Will Close at 5 pm

 Houston, TX – Due to the threat of severe flooding, the early voting site at Ripley House, 4410 Navigation Boulevard, Houston, TX 77011, for the State Senate District 6 Special Election, will close at 5 pm. The neighborhood where the early voting site is situated is afflicted by major flooding whenever there is heavy rain.

Voters residing in and around the Second Ward neighborhood who want to vote early this evening are advised to go to the County Attorney Conference Center located at 1019 Congress in downtown Houston. It is the nearest early voting site to Ripley House. Voters may find the complete early voting schedule at www.HarrisVotes.com.

All other early voting locations will remain open until 7 p.m. Today is the last day to vote early in the State Senate District 6 Special Election. Election Day is Tuesday, December 11.

This is absolutely BS!

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, the Alvarado Campaign Manager, and Commentary all made phone calls trying to keep Ripley House open.

The Elections Division folks blamed BakerRipley. The BakerRipley folks blamed the Elections Division folks running the election at Ripley House.

The Carol Alvarado campaign stationed a poll worker at the front of the Ripley House polling location to redirect Early Voters to HCC Southeast or Moody Park.

It has been determined that there were some voters who did show up at Ripley House after 5 pm who were not allowed to vote. That is a real shame. Thanks to BakerRipley or the Elections Division folks, some voters were disenfranchised.

Commentary is hoping the new folks coming in to run Harris County government will look into what happened.  If in fact the folks who were running the election at Ripley House were to blame, then they should never be allowed to work in a local election again. If BakerRipley is to blame, then they need to hold the person or persons responsible accountable. This is certainly out of character for BakerRipley.

The email that was sent out Friday afternoon went to a pretty extensive list. The Carol Alvarado Campaign was the only one to raise hell on this. Come on folks! Get out of your comfort zone. One disenfranchised voter is one too many. In this case there were a few.

I was watching “What’s Your Point” on Fox26 yesterday morning and at the end of the show, Bill King said he was leaving the program because he was going to be preoccupied with another project. He is running for H-Town Mayor.

Election Day for the #TXSD6SpecialElection is tomorrow.

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77 years-ago today the Japanese attacked the United States.

More and more folks forget what happened that day. Not me!

Let’s see. GOP operatives in North Carolina scoop up and destroy mail ballots belonging to African Americans and the political party of voter suppression remains silent on this. This is the same political party who tries to lecture us on Voter I.D.s. You know what they can do with that Voter I.D.

Stay Home, Please!

This is from today’s Chron:

Houstonians should stay home Friday night, if possible, to avoid flash floods expected to start the weekend, county officials advised.

The Houston area will see 3 to 6 inches of rainfall, and at least 8 inches in a few isolated areas, said Francisco Sánchez, deputy emergency management coordinator of Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management.

Harris County Tejano Democrats have scheduled a Friday night meeting for this evening to endorse in the #TXSD6 Special Election. I wonder how many will brave the weather and attend with umbrellas and rain boots?

From the just kidding department, on a related note, the folks over at H-Town City Hall want us to clean our storm drains before the rains come this evening. I didn’t know that was our job. I guess they don’t have a storm drain cleaning department over at City Hall.

Heck, why am I even complaining? I got a ditch in front of my house. BTW: When I got home last night, on trash pick-up day, my black garbage bin was sitting head first in my ditch – nice. Oh, yeah, I forgot, they also want to run some of our schools. Like I said, just kidding, but I have to admit, they are giving us plenty of ammo to kid them.

This is from the Trib on the #TXSD6 Special Election debate:

At a debate Tuesday, the two collided when a moderator asked Hernandez about the Houston Chronicle editorial board’s recent endorsement of Alvarado, which commended her for climbing the leadership ranks in a Republican-led House.

Here is the Trib piece: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/12/06/sylvia-garcia-carol-alvarado-ana-hernandez-special-election/.

My pal, Jay Aiyer, has a great Op-Ed today on Dems taking over Harris County government here: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/A-100-day-agenda-for-Harris-County-s-new-13436389.php.

See this sad news from the Chron:

Luis Valbuena, the charismatic, bat-flipping third baseman who played an integral part on the Astros 2015 Wild Card team, died in a car accident following a winter ball game in his native Venezuela on Thursday along with former Astro Jose Castillo.

Valbuena hit 25 dingers with the Astros in 2015 and wore the number 18.

Not Sold

Commentary is not sold on this. Right now, I don’t think it is a good idea. Check this from the Chron:

The city of Houston’s education czar and three well-connected, civically engaged residents plan in the coming weeks to seek control of some long-struggling Houston ISD schools in a bid to improve academic outcomes and help the district stave off major state sanctions tied to chronically low performance at the campuses.

State business records show Juliet Stipeche, the director of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office of Education Initiatives, and the three board members have formed the Coalition for Educational Excellence and Equity in Houston, a nonprofit that could partner with HISD to take over campuses under a state law encouraging charter agreements between school districts and private organizations.

If an agreement with HISD were struck, the nonprofit envisions assuming control of academics, finances and governance at an undetermined number of schools. The portfolio likely would include four campuses in danger of triggering sanctions — either forced campus closures or a state takeover of HISD’s locally elected school board — if any one of them fails to meet state academic standards in 2019. In exchange, the state would provide an additional $1,800 per student in funding to the nonprofit, and it would grant HISD a two-year reprieve from sanctions if it surrendered control of the four campuses.

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan and school board members have shown little enthusiasm for such arrangements to date, but they have not precluded the possibility ahead of a state-imposed deadline in early February 2019 to submit any agreements. The arrangements are intended to be temporary, with control over the campuses returned to a school district after a contractually agreed-upon period.

Stipeche, who served as an HISD trustee from 2010 to 2015, said the coalition will seek to engage other local civic organizations in providing resources to students who attend schools that often fail to meet state academic standards. The coalition has not yet solidified its educational framework or crafted a proposal for public viewing, Stipeche said.

“We envision working through a collective-impact approach to lock arms with the community, to reimagine what we can do to support our schools as centers of excellence, equity and innovation,” Stipeche said. “We are working on finalizing an overview of what we would like to present to the board for their consideration in terms of how we work, what our core values and vision are, and what our building blocks of success are.”

The coalition includes three founding board members: Trinidad “Trini” Mendenhall, the co-founder of the grocery chain Fiesta Mart and president of the real estate investment firm Fulton Shopping Center; Stephanie Nellons-Paige, the vice president of external affairs for Texas Central Railway and wife of former HISD superintendent Rod Paige; and Corbin Robertson Jr., CEO and chairman of the mining company Natural Resources Partners.

And this:

Mendenhall, Nellons-Paige and Robertson each have deep roots in Houston, with lengthy track records of civic activism that make them well-positioned to raise outside funds for the initiative. Mendenhall and Robertson, in particular, boast extensive management and nonprofit governance experience.

The well-heeled group, however, has few personal ties to the largely impoverished neighborhoods under consideration for partnerships. None of its members have been educators. The fast-approaching February 2019 deadline also gives the coalition little time to build trust in its vision.

Here is the entire read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/Civic-group-including-mayor-s-ed-czar-may-13446066.php.

When I think of the functions of city government, I think public safety, garbage pick-up, and street repairs. I don’t think fixing up the schools. Plus, now the City of H-Town is in a huge wrestling match with Firefighters, I don’t see how they can add taking on this issue. We elect school board trustees and they select a superintendent to figure out fixing our schools. I prefer that the trustees take the lead on this rather than an untested idea with no track record and experience. That’s my take.

We are getting another football team for those who care.

Here is the Chron story on last night’s #TXSD6 Special Election debate at UH Downtown: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Alvarado-Hernandez-throw-jabs-at-Senate-District-13443393.php.

Alvarado, Hernandez throw jabs at Senate District 6 debate

By Jasper Scherer

Updated 9:22 pm CST, Tuesday, December 4, 2018

State Reps. Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez swatted at each other’s legislative records Tuesday evening during the only debate in the special election to fill the Texas Senate seat vacated by Sylvia Garcia.

Hernandez suggested Alvarado “compromised her values” to win chairmanships and Alvarado pushed back that she was proud to gain leadership appointments under a moderate Republican speaker.

Otherwise, Hernandez, Alvarado and Mia Mundy, a Democrat also seeking the seat, laid out staunchly progressive platforms, calling for the state to kick in more funds for public education and registering agreement on each immigration issue raised, including unanimous opposition to a border wall and Texas’ anti-“sanctuary cities” law.

Martha Fierro, a precinct chair for the Harris County Republican Party who is also running, declined to attend the debate, which was hosted by KTRK-TV ABC 13 and Univison 45 at the University of Houston-Downtown.

The back-and-forth dialogue kicked off about 40 minutes into the event, when Hernandez was asked about the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board’s statement that she “hasn’t gained the sort of leadership positions that Alvarado boasts.”

Hernandez, first elected to the House in 2005, noted that she has served in the lower chamber under Republican leadership. With the GOP in control, she said she has not received chairmanships like Alvarado has because doing so “compromises the values that you’ve been elected to represent.”

“To have to compromise and negotiate to be in a leadership position, I will not do that,” she said. “I will represent the best interests of my constituents.”

Alvarado, given time to respond, said she and Hernandez have “pretty much the same” voting records, but indicated she believes it’s possible to be progressive while working with Republicans.

“When you have to get 76 votes to pass something, you have to work across the aisle,” said Alvarado, who chairs the Urban Affairs Committee and was first elected to the House in 2008. “And I’m proud of the trust and the confidence that a moderate Republican like (Speaker) Joe Straus placed in me not to chair one committee, but two committees.”

She went on to invoke the chairmanships of Democratic state Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman.

“So I would say by mentioning the words ‘compromise your values,’ I’ve never done that,” she said. “I don’t forget where I come from. I live in my community, I actually live in this district.”

Hernandez, who said after the debate that she does in fact live in Senate District 6, shot back, saying, “This moderate Republican speaker that has appointed her (as) chair, it’s the same one that pushed SB 4” — a reference to the law that requires local law enforcement to abide by federal officials’ requests to detain people believed to have entered the country illegally.

“You tell me if that’s moderate,” Hernandez said, adding, “and I’m glad that you mentioned Senfronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman, because I am proud to have their endorsement for my candidacy for Senate District 6.”

In her closing statement, Alvarado appeared to make a veiled reference to the dialogue.

“I also realize that promises don’t equate to much if you don’t have the results to back them up,” she said.

Mundy, a first-time candidate and consultant at a Houston recruiting firm, urged the audience not to let her lack of experience “fool” them. She said her campaign was about “putting people first,” and promised to work with Republicans while staying true to Democratic principles, saying she is the type of person who “surrounds myself with different thinkers.”

Pitching her candidacy, Alvarado, who previously served on Houston City Council, drew on her work supporting air quality monitoring requirements and advocating for areas related to “women’s reproductive health.” She once drew attention for holding a sonogram on the House floor during a debate over legislation that would require doctors to conduct the procedure on women before performing abortions. She played up her her roots in the district, too, mentioning her education at Houston ISD.

Hernandez, who was born in Mexico and brought to the United States by her parents, on Tuesday emphasized her backstory, as she has done on the campaign trail. Immigration received a heavy focus in Tuesday’s debate, providing Hernandez with ample opportunities to speak about her experience as an undocumented immigrant.

“There are many families that come here just like mine, looking for a better opportunity for their children,” she said.

“I think that we need to fight these policies, as I have in the Texas Legislature, not just defying SB 4 on the House floor, but continuing that fight in the court,” Hernandez said.

Senate District 6, which voted strongly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and has previously elected Democrats by wide margins, covers parts of Houston’s East End, South Houston, Pasadena and Baytown. Its population is about three-quarters Hispanic, according to Census data.

On Monday, Alvarado and Hernandez reported having $172,000 and $147,000 in campaign funds, respectively, heading into the home stretch, with Alvarado vastly outspending Hernandez and the rest of the field. Mundy had not raised or spent any money, her report indicated, while Fierro had about $4,000 cash on hand.

Early voting began Nov. 26 and continues through Friday, ahead of a Dec. 11 Election Day. More than 7,700 people have already cast ballots, with about two-thirds of the vote coming by mail.

The election will go to a runoff between the top two candidates if nobody receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

jasper.scherer@chron.com

twitter.com/jaspscherer

Nope! I really don’t think my pals Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman have compromised their positions or values to be House Committee Chairs.

Oh, brother on the residency thing. It’s not a secret. It might be news to the Chron, but most political players in the loop know she doesn’t live in the district she represents – never has. A lot of players I know say who cares. Maybe so. Then just admit it.

Remember the fella who said, “lock her up.” He must have ratted out big time since he might not get locked up. Check this out:

WASHINGTON – Special counsel Robert Mueller III on Tuesday recommended that former national security adviser Michael Flynn serve no prison time, citing his “substantial assistance” with several ongoing investigations, according to a new court filing.

Oh, well.

We signed up a catcher yesterday.

Campaign Reports

The campaign and expenditure reports for the #TXSD6 Special Election are now available online but Commentary will let others explain them. Let me point out and remind folks that Rep. Carol Alvarado’s campaign had to report twice this past October because of a Libertarian opponent on the November 6 ballot. Got it?

There is an interesting story in Politico today on the lack of diversity on the staffs of those considering 2020 Dem presidential runs.

On a related note, what is going on locally with recent hires by November 6 winners probably merits a diversity discussion, but I don’t have time right now, so it will have to wait.

Are folks already lining up to run for City of H-Town races. Let me know, please.

No mail delivery tomorrow.  Banks are open.

 

H-Town and 41

Commentary knows it is a logistics thing, but it would have been nice to have the tribute to 41 tonight four blocks north where his statue stands. Just saying.

41 and the former First Lady were regulars at The Yard. They would sit in the Diamond Level seats. They were also regulars on the KissKam. When they would get up to leave the game, the fans around that seating section would always get up and give them a standing ovation. It was always nice.

They had their favorite restaurants and grocery store. I met them through my pal Drayton in the Diamond level at the Astrodome. I once ran into the former First Lady in the 1990s at the now gone Cineplex Odeon on Augusta.

41 will be taken to DC today and he will return to H-Town Wednesday night and buried in College Station on Thursday.

H-Town was fortunate to have a former President and former First Lady to be residents and neighbors for the past 26 years. It was kind of special. Now that is gone.

41 rightfully gets credit for putting together the Desert Storm coalition and he did the right thing by not going into Bagdad. He doesn’t get credit but should for negotiating NAFTA. NAFTA was approved a year after he left office. It certainly had an impact on the Texas economy.

Looking at the remaining schedule, the Texans could certainly be 13-3 heading into the playoffs. 41 would certainly be excited about that.

 

National Joke

GOP U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has been giving some farewell interviews the last couple of days. He says history will be kind to this Congress. Nope, buddy! Ryan will go down in history as one of Donald Trump’s punks – period. He is a national joke in my book today.

The latest has Trump calling his former personal lawyer a liar. We all agree that Trump is a huge liar. This will continue until GOP leaders in Congress stop letting Trump get away with telling lies. Maybe a Dem controlled House will come up with a strategy that backs GOP House members into a corner where they have to respond. Just maybe.

I was emailed this a few days ago:

During the Nov, 6th, 2018 election in City of Houston, Prop B won by an overwhelming margin. Below are the percentages and total votes cast in District H, I, and E.

District H —–  Total Votes FOR Prop B  —–   20,949 YES Votes  —- Won District by 64%

District I —–  Total Votes FOR Prop B ——- 18,983  YES VOTES  —- Won District by 70%

District E —– Total Votes FOR Prop B —— 36,975  YES Votes —— Won District by 61%

Pretty strong numbers if you ask Commentary and thanks for asking.

Votes of color were certainly behind Prop B.

Go vote early in the #TXSD6Special!